Tamás Bakó, Head Of Office Deputy Head Of Mission For Economic Affairs,Embassy Of Hungary

There are really no limitations when doing business in a neighborly country

We talked about the success of Serbian-Hungarian economic relations with Mr. Tamás BAKÓ, Head of Office Deputy Head of Mission for Economic Affairs Embassy of Hungary.

How do you see the current state of the economic and the political relations of our two countries?

— The recent years brought substantial improvement in our bilateral relations. The volume of bilateral trade broke all records and in 2018 exceeded 2.5 billion EUR. This dynamic boost is a result of the excellent political relations and well-grounded state incentives provided by the Hungarian and Serbian governments, aiming at ensuring unfettered market access and steady flow of goods and services. The regular high-level visits accompanied by business delegations, the annually organized Hungarian-Serbian intergovernmental summits and the sessions of the Joint Economic Commission, together with the excellent chamber relations will provide great contribution fora positive business climate. These endeavors are complemented by a special focus on promoting Hungarian investments in Serbia. I would highlight two of the recent investments made by Hungarian companies: in September this year the internationally renowned petrochemical company MOL opened an oil-storage and logistic center in Sremski Karlovci – so far the company’s biggest investment in Serbia – while the Hungarian OTP Bank Group just recently closed the deal on the acquisition of Societe Generale Srbija. These success stories are a clear indication of the long-lasting economic partnership established by the Hungarian and Serbian Governments. Hungary is one of Serbia’s most important trade partners.

According to your data, what did the trade between Hungary and Serbia? How many Hungarian companies do currently do business in Serbia?

How present are Serbian companies in Hungary?— The volume of bilateral trade has been showing a steady growth, which can be illustrated with the following figures: in 2013 the value of trade totaled 1.6 billion EUR; last year the respective volume reached 2.5 billion EUR. That is a remarkable 52.5% increase in just five years. This tendency continued in 2019 and in the first six months the volume of bilateral trade already reached 1.3 billion EUR, an increase of 7.1% compared to last year’s data. Based on the account balance, the Hungarian sur-plus is still prominent; the share of the Hungarian export from the total trade is 63.3%. However, the Serbian contribution is gradually increasing, meaning that we are on a trajectory leading to a more balanced bilateral foreign trade. The most important product im-ported from Serbia to Hungary is electricity; in 2018 this single commodity counted for 28.4% of the total import volume. On the other hand, petroleum products, electric current and medicinal and pharmaceutical products are the main export commodities shipped from Hungary to Serbia. Along with the big investors, there are a couple of hundred Hungarian companies operating in Serbia. A substantial amount of them are joint ventures that represent the Hungarian company through-out the Western Balkans.

How often do Hungarian business-men turn to you for advice as to how to reach the Serbian market and how do you present Serbia as an investment destination to potential investors?

— Addressing inquiries coming from Hungarian businesses and assisting their endeavors on the Serbian market have always been a dominant part of the assignments of the Embassy’s Economic Section. With the intensification of the Hungarian-Serbian eco-nomic relations, we experience an increase in these type of requests. There are several factors that make Serbia an ideal export destination for Hungarian companies: the close proximity, its central location in the Balkan Peninsula, along with the growing stability and competitiveness of the economy creates an excellent business climate where Hungarian companies can thrive.

In which fields can companies from the two countries establish cooperation?

— The bilateral trade relations in the fields of agriculture and manufactured goods are traditionally strong and long-established, and the business ties in the energy sector are also illustrious. Water management is a particularly relevant sector, as Hungarian companies have internationally recognized references and competitive technologies that provides an excellent opportunity to capitalize on. ICT and digitalization are dynamically emerging fields that also reserve notable potential for future cooperation. There are really no limitations when doing business in a neighborly country.

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